I decided to go to Phuket because my uncle had built a series of luxury villas in Rawai, south of Phuket and had kindly let me use one to end my holiday. A soon as I arrived in Phuket, I rented a scooter to explore the island. One must be very careful driving a scooter here, there is a kind of road anarchy and, in fact, it is one of the places with the highest rate of accidents. Petrol can be bought along the road and is sold in glass bottles, because around here there is no real petrol station. One day I even burst a tyre and I spent a whopping € 2.00 to have it fixed. Nai Harn’s beach, in my opinion, is the most beautiful on the island and is located south, near Rawai. Here, in the morning, the tide is very low and you can pick up some lovely shells. I love relaxing under the umbrella and munching on fresh pineapple and drinking coconut milk straight from the nut. One can have a delicious lunch spending only a few Euros in any of the divine restaurants along the beach. I advise prawn tempura (fried prawns) and pineapple rice served in a hollowed out half pineapple instead of a plate.
From Nai Harn, you can go to the highest point, Cape Promthep, and watch the sunset, which is nothing short of spectacular. There is a shrine to Buddha, full of votive statuettes in the shape of an elephant. In addition to the sea, elephant rides and shopping, another interesting pastime is visiting the Cobra Farms. They have both normal cobras and king cobras. The guys who work here are called in to remove unwelcome guests in private houses. My neighbours one night had a very nasty surprise. The daughter thought she had dropped her python belt under the sofa and went to get it, when she closed her hand she found herself in front of a 3 meters long king cobra. Needless to say, the fear was huge, but luckily nothing happened except that the room was evacuated and closed until the cobra farm guys arrived to take away the unexpected guest. I also tried the thrill of having a boa constrictor around my leg to check out its deadly grip, and I must admit that if it were not for the boys that took it off, the situation would prove to be rather complicated. In the jungle surrounding the elephant and snake farms, if you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of gibbons playing in the trees chasing each other.
The western part of the island is more developed. Especially the part around Patong, which is full of hotels, pubs and restaurants. It’s the tourist area of the island, there are many markets and it’s full of people. To get to Patong from Rawai, one passes two beautiful beaches, Kata and Karon Beach.
There are many islands in Thailand and some are quite close together, I have not been able to visit all, but Kho Khai, Kho Phi Phi and Phang Nga are really beautiful. One can take a day trip or choose to stay there the night in a bungalow on the beach. Phang Nga is probably the most beautiful, and is called "James Bond's Island" because the James Bond film "The Man with the Golden Gun" was filmed here in 1974. The beauty of Phang Nga is indisputable, but sometimes less obvious places are more fun. Our boat left us right in front of a cave in the bay of Phang Nga. My guide strongly discouraged me to bring my camera (unfortunately) because I was about to enter into an inflatable dinghy and did not know how much I would get wet. I had to lie completely flat in the boat to pass through this dark cave, and I must admit that if one suffers from claustrophobia it’s not exactly the best thing to do, but it certainly deserves to be done. Upon exiting the cave, I found myself in a paradise of mangroves in a sort of hole in the centre of this small island. The only problem is that one mustn’t go in too late; otherwise you risk not being able to come out because as soon as the tide begins to rise the cave is completely flooded. My guide had to deflate the dinghy several times so we wouldn’t hit the ceiling. I must admit, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the light, but the experience was really fun.